Monterey signs on to clean energy initiative

By Carly Mayberry, Monterey Herald, 7 June 2017

Despite last week’s decision made in Washington to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the city of Monterey has publicly affirmed its commitment to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2040.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, city officials signed on to participate in the Sierra Club’s “Mayor for 100 Percent Clean Energy” Initiative. The effort calls for all mayors, regardless of political party and whether they represent a big city or small town, to support the vision of 100 percent clean and renewable energy in their own community and across the country.

“We have our own Paris Accord!” said Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson, who joins 84 other mayors who have pledged their support for a community-wide transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

While the initiative was met with the unanimous support of all city council members, city officials say Monterey has long made it a priority to address climate change impacts through the utilization of clean energy sources. The participation in the initiative is in accordance with the greenhouse gas reduction goals set forth in its Climate Action Plan.

“It basically expands a lot of what they city is doing already – it’s just a new sort of target and shows solidarity with other cities that are making these efforts,” said Ted Terrasas, the city’s sustainability coordinator, noting the city is operating on 85 percent renewable power and has been for several years.

“Except for the power for the street lights that comes from standard PG&E right now, it’s been several years already that the majority of our energy uses has been through renewable power,” said Terrasas.

In March, the city joined Monterey Bay Community Power, the new regional agency that will take over power purchasing control from PG&E while doubling Monterey County’s renewable energy portfolio for the same price.

“Right now, because of the cost effectiveness of renewable power, that’s a lot of the reason why we’re still anticipating MBCP can provide basically double the renewable power for the same rates – from 30 to 60 percent,” said Terrasas. “That really starts to increase the availability of renewable power and try to push towards that 100 percent mark, and again, that’s just to start. In the coming years, we’re going to be able to produce quite a bit more.”

Kim Cole, the city’s interim community development director, agreed with Terrasas’ assessment.

“We’ve already made some pretty big strides,” said Cole, noting the city’s commitment for city facilities to purchase renewable sources, its move to join the MBCP joint powers agreement and its participation in the SEED (Solar Energy and Economic Development) fund. That program involves working with regional partners to find economical solutions to installing solar panels on select city properties and to produce renewable power with any excess power being sold to the MBCP.

“So it’s because of those initiatives, we think we can commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.”

Roberson said the city has long taken responsible measures in terms of the environment, even back during his first time around as the city’s mayor.

“In my experience, we’re one of the first cities in the state to stop using Styrofoam and ban cigarettes and the fact our city is purchasing our own green sources is pretty impressive,” he said.

Terrasas said with each initiative, the city accomplishes more toward relying on renewable sources.

“The city is making progress on our own but if we can join the cause and say ‘Here’s something we’re shooting at,’ then we thought we would join that effort as well,” said Terrasas.

Carly Mayberry can be reached at 831-726-4363.